Prison suicide victim Kim Borg Nicolas Virtu was hospitalised owing to self-harm just days before her fatal attempt, a court heard on Tuesday.

Details leading up to the woman’s death last year, emerged at the compilation of evidence against two former warders criminally charged over the suicide.

Annabelle Cauchi, 51 from Zebbug and Alison Vassallo, 41, from Fgura, are pleading not guilty to involuntary homicide and also with allegedly committing a crime which they were duty bound to prevent. 

Prosecuting inspector Paul Camilleri said during cross-examination by defence lawyers Herman Mula and Mario Mifsud that on June 16, he arrived at Corradino before the ambulance team got there, finding prison staff administering CPR in an attempt to resuscitate the victim.

He said that days earlier, the inmate had been admitted to Mater Dei Hospital where she tried to give her warders the slip. She was tracked down while still at the hospital and had told warders that she had simply ‘escaped’ in search of a cigarette.

The patient subsequently discharged herself from hospital against medical advice, insisting that she would rather go back to CCF.

The prosecutor said that he was not directly involved in investigations concerning that hospital incident and no charges were included in the proceedings at hand.

The suicide triggered an inquiry led by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech who set about gathering evidence about the circumstances surrounding the inmate’s death, ultimately directing police authorities to take criminal action against the two warders.

A fellow inmate told the inquiring magistrate that her close friend Borg Virtu was “very healthy.”

Camilleri said that police were advised by the Attorney General to act upon the conclusions of the magisterial inquiry.

Asked by family lawyer Rachel Tua to give further details about the victim’s previous hospitalisation, Camilleri said that the reasons were twofold.

Borg Virtu used to complain of excessive period pains. Moreover, she had tried to cut herself with a mirror found inside her cell, said the inspector, adding that those cuts were not picked out during the autopsy. 

Why was Borg Virtu placed all alone in a cell upon her return from hospital and had prison authorities taken any measures in view of the inmate’s attempted escape, asked Edmond Cuschieri, the other parte civile lawyer.

The inspector said that the relative information was to be found in the records of the magisterial inquiry.

As for the clothes worn by the victim, Camilleri said that the prison medical unit had provided non-tearable clothes.

Borg Virtu was still wearing her top when she was found unconscious inside her cell.

The trousers were used for the suicide.

Pressed further to disclose the names of prison officials who supplied those items, the witness again said that details were definitely included in the records of the inquiry.

The case continues in July.

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